By The Staff Care Team Jun 04, 2019
When the job market in your
field more than quadruples over the course of 20 years, you can bet that the
opportunities for short-term and part-time assignments will also expand. Such
is the case with nurse practitioner jobs, and specifically locum
tenens nurse practitioners (NPs).
Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) reports that there were approximately 63,000 nurse practitioners
(NPs) working across the country in 1991; as of January 2019, that number had reached
over 270,000. Additionally, AANP estimates that the number of patient visits to
nurse practitioners now exceeds 1.06
also point to continued growth for locum NP jobs across a number of
disciplines, according to Bronwyn Jefferson, an advanced practice
recruiting consultant for Staff Care, a leading
locum tenens staffing agency.
“Nurse practitioners, including
those working locum tenens, are a growing specialty in part due to the
physician shortage,” reported Jefferson, who has served on the advanced
practice team for more than five years.
“NPs are seeing more patients
every year, and they are diagnosing and prescribing, especially as more states
continue to adopt independent practice standards,” she continued. “From a cost
perspective, they are also more affordable for a facility’s temporary staffing
The growth in locum NP opportunities
Prior to 2012, Staff Care received minimal requests for advanced practitioners to
work locum assignments. In their 2012 annual review of temporary staffing
trends, only 12.4 percent of healthcare facility managers reported they had
used locum tenens NPs and physician assistants (PAs) in the previous 12 months.
Just five years later, in the 2017
Review, that amount had doubled—with 26
percent of healthcare managers reporting they had used locum tenens NPs and PAs.
And the use of locum nurse practitioners has continued to expand.
Staff Care currently maintains a recruitment
team of more than 15 professionals who specialize in advanced practice assignments,
including locum jobs for NPs, PAs, CRNAs and others.
10 key things to know about locum NP jobs:
1. The hot spots for locum tenens NP assignments
A few years ago, the most demand
for locum nurse practitioners was on the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest, according
to Jefferson. While these areas continue to hire a lot of locum NPs, her team
has noted that the demand is now spread more evenly across the country.
Today, the need is often greater
in rural areas, including critical access facilities, where many locum NPs
enjoy serving the underserved. This follows a larger trend, according to a 2018 report from the University of Michigan that found NPs are more
likely to practice in areas of higher need than physicians or physician
FIND locum NP jobs across the U.S.
2. The locum NP specialties experiencing the greatest demand
Primary care and behavioral
health show the most consistent demand for locum NPs, with the latter
experiencing the biggest growth in recent years, according to Jefferson. She
noted, “Psychiatric NPs can now choose from a wide range of locum tenens
opportunities, with children, adolescents and/or adult patients.”
Yet locum tenens NP jobs can be
found across a wide spectrum of specialties and settings, from specialized
inpatient units to emergency departments, urgent care, specialty practices and
clinics, and other outpatient settings. Locum nurse practitioners can also be
found in surgical centers, correctional settings, rehabilitation facilities, home
health, and more.
3. Demand for specific jobs and schedules can fluctuate
Nurse practitioners can choose
from either full-time or part-time locum jobs, including some short-term local
work, although most of Staff Care’s current availability is for full-time and
ongoing assignments, reported Jefferson.
The availability of locum tenens
NP jobs can also fluctuate depending on the time of year. The peak demand
generally occurs in the summer and early fall, due to facilities’ needs for
vacation coverage, additional staffing during flu season and other factors.
4. Flexibility and mobility are key for traveling NPs
“In many cases, we are looking
for providers who we can license and travel to another state,” said Jefferson.
“We will pay for their licensing and take care of all of their credentialing. And
the more flexible they are on location, the more likely they can be placed
She added that NPs who hold a
multi-state RN license in one of the Nurse Licensure Compact states and want to
work in another compact state will find an expedited path to working across
5. The typical length of a locum tenens NP assignment
Though contracts will vary
depending on the needs of the hiring facility, the most common assignment
length for locum NPs is three months, with an option to extend the contract,
“From time to time, we do get six-month
contracts; this is more common in psychiatry. But in primary care and other outpatient
settings it will usually be the three-month contract, with option to extend,”
6. The expected NP salary, housing and benefits for locum jobs
Locum tenens nurse practitioners can
expect a competitive
hourly pay rate plus travel and lodging expenses paid by their
locum tenens agency; many agencies also provide malpractice insurance and free
CME units. Locums can have their housing and travel arranged by the company’s
in-house travel team, or make their own arrangements.
“A lot of our locums like the
freedom to choose for themselves, and will opt for the generous monthly travel
stipend,” said Jefferson.
7. How much experience is needed before working locum tenens
“As a minimum, I would definitely
recommend at least a year of experience working as an NP before applying for a
locum assignment. Facilities want someone who can hit the ground running,”
explained Jefferson. “Sometimes we will have opportunities for new graduates,
but they tend to be for doing in-home risk assessments and physicals.”
8. Professional tax or financial guidance can help
Nurse practitioners and other
clinicians considering locum tenens work may want to consult with their tax
preparer or another financial expert familiar with independent contractor
arrangements, taxable vs. nontaxable reimbursements, and the taxation laws in
multiple states. Locum recruiters should not be giving any tax advice.
9. How long it takes to get started as a locum tenens NP
The timeline to start a locum assignment
depends on the provider’s readiness, state requirements and current demand.
“For instance, an NP who is looking for a quick start in a state that doesn’t
have a lot of jobs in their specialty may not be realistic, but it can be
possible if they are willing to get a license somewhere else,” Jefferson
“If a locum candidate has their
state license and everything ready to go, he or she could potentially get
started that next week in primary care. In outpatient settings, NP candidates
can often start within four weeks; inpatient assignment starts will generally
take 45 to 90 days,” she added.
agencies can handle licensing, credentialing and more
“What’s great about Staff Care is that we have a tendered
team with experience, we know the NP market, we have an in-house licensing team,
and we can walk you through the process,” explained Jefferson. “We will send
everything off to the state licensing board, request verifications, and may proactively
license you for locum assignments, paying the state fees. And candidates do not
pay any fees for our placement services.”
Jefferson encourages anyone considering locum work to
simply contact a recruiter:
“We are available to answer any questions before you get started.”
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